The Island of Misfits …

Once upon a time, many moons ago, I worked for a small company, just over 100 employees total.  Since it was a small company, just starting up, all of us in management wore many hats.  My primary title was Comptroller, but I also wore the hats of Human Resource Director and Logistics Manager.  It was around 1990, I think, and one of my accounting staff had resigned, so I placed an ad in the local paper (this was before and CareerBuilders).  In the ad, I plainly stated that the applicant must be savvy in Microsoft applications, such as Excel and Word, and have a general understanding of Accounting software.  One lady who came in to interview seemed quite nice, but …

Me:  So, tell me about your computer experience, particularly in Microsoft applications

She:  Well, to be honest, I’ve never used a computer, but if you can show me how to turn it on, I think I can figure out the rest.

No, friends, I am not joking.  That was exactly what she said.  She was the least qualified candidate imaginable for the position, and no, I did not hire her.

Under the current ideology of our federal government, however, I would have hired her. The reigning philosophy in the big White House at the moment, seems to be to hire the person who has no qualifications whatsoever, just so long as they meet certain criteria:

  • Must ardently deny that the emissions of carbon into the atmosphere by the activities of humans have any effect on the environment
  • Must ardently support the right of every man, woman and child to own at least one gun, preferably an assault-type weapon
  • Must be willing to lie, cheat and steal on command
  • Must be a lifelong member of the National Rifle Association (NRA) and support their mission
  • Must have net assets totaling more than $1 million
  • Must not be burdened by either compassion or a conscience
  • Must either have traveled to Russia in the past year, or have significant business holdings in Russia
  • Must be able to change your opinion 180° within 30 seconds flat
  • Must have a history of sexual aggression or perversion
  • Must be willing to agree with Donald Trump 100%, all of the time, even when you know he is wrong
  • Must be a WASP (White, Anglo-Saxon, Protestant)
  • Must strongly oppose any form of nationalized universal healthcare

And finally, the most important …

  • Must have no experience or expertise in the field for which you are applying

We have seen so many examples of this …

  • Scott Pruitt – tapped to lead the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) … an agency he had sued 14 times as Attorney General for the State of Oklahoma
  • Betsy DeVos – appointed as Secretary of Education, though she has no teaching background, no degree in education, and has promoted taking funding from public schools to establish charter schools, that would benefit a very small number of students
  • Jefferson Beauregard Sessions – appointed as Attorney General of the U.S., despite, or perhaps because of, his well-documented racist attitudes
  • Ben Carson – Secretary of Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), though his field of expertise is medicine/surgery, and he has nothing that qualifies him for the position
  • Jim Bridenstine – Director of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), despite having no background in scientific research, no college degree in any hard science

And the list goes on … and on. Any Human Resource director would be having nightmares over this rag-tag staff!  But now, we can add two more from just the past two days.

Mike Pompeo has just been selected, though not yet confirmed by the Senate, to replace Rex Tillerson as Secretary of State.  I won’t ramble on about this one, for I did that yesterday.  And the latest?  Trump has appointed Lawrence Kudlow to replace Gary Cohn as head of the National Economic Council, top economic advisor.  I am applying for a new passport next week … I foolishly let mine expire.  Let us learn a little bit about Mr. Kudlow, shall we?kudlowIt is said that Kudlow has been wrong about almost everything for at least the past several decades.    Take this one, for example:

“Despite all the doom and gloom from the economic pessimistas, the resilient U.S. economy continues moving ahead. There’s no recession coming. The pessimistas were wrong. It’s not going to happen.  The Bush boom is alive and well. It’s finishing up its sixth consecutive year with more to come. Yes, it’s still the greatest story never told.” – Larry Kudlow, 07 December 2007

Note the date … according to the U.S. National Bureau of Economic Research (the official arbiter of U.S. recessions) the recession began in December 2007 and ended in June 2009, and thus extended over eighteen months. (A side note: President Obama, who has often been blamed for the recession by the GOP, did not take office until January 20th 2009, fully 13 months after the official start of the recession, and just 5 months before its end.)  And this is the guy who will now be advising the president, the man who leads the nation into either poverty or prosperity, on economic issues???

In 1993, when Bill Clinton proposed an increase in the top tax rate from 31 percent to 39.6 percent, Kudlow wrote, “There is no question that President Clinton’s across-the-board tax increases … will throw a wet blanket over the recovery and depress the economy’s long-run potential to grow.” This was wrong. Instead, a boom ensued.

The list of his faux pas is long, but the above examples should be enough to convince you that this man does not understand basic economic principles and wears blinders to shut out reality most of the time.

Kudlow’s background includes a degree in history from The University of Rochester in Rochester, New York.  Kudlow also attended, but did not complete, Princeton University’s Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, where he studied political science and economics.  He should have stayed there longer.

He worked in the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) under Reagan … remember ‘supply-side’ economics and the ‘trickle-down’ theory?  But it is what he has been doing since that is mind-boggling in light of the position he was just awarded.  He hosts a talk radio show.  “The Larry Kudlow Show” airs on Saturday mornings from 10am to 1pm ET and via nationwide syndication via Westwood One.  I hear Alex Jones of InfoWars is being considered to replace Rick Perry as Secretary of Energy.  🙄

Suffice it to say that this is yet another on Trump’s long list of inappropriate appointees.  He obviously goes looking for the least capable, least qualified for each position.  We can only hope that they all get voted off the island before they destroy the island altogether.

Island of misfit toys


From Bad To Worse …

The first news I saw this morning was that Tillerson had been fired, which anybody with half a brain predicted months ago.  Now, Tillerson was highly unqualified for the job of Secretary of State, as I wrote in May 2017.  However, in defense of Mr. Tillerson, he was trying to learn his job, was trying, I think, to do the right thing.  Or perhaps I am only in his corner because he had the nerve to call Donald Trump a moron last October.

At any rate, Tillerson is out and in his place comes Mike Pompeo, who until today was the Director of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA).  Now, I know that hearing me say what I’m about to say is getting old and you’re tired of hearing it, but hey … I’m not the one who keeps finding these people.  Mike Pompeo is highly unqualified to be in the position of Secretary of State.  Surprised, aren’t you?  Let’s take a brief look at ol’ Mikey …

He graduated with a degree in mechanical engineering from West Point in 1986, and with a JD from Harvard Law School in 1994.  And what has he done since then?  He was a member of the U.S. House of Representatives from 2011 until Trump tapped him for the CIA position almost immediately after the 2016 election.  His political views make him a perfect fit for the Trump ‘team’, for he leans far to the right and is or was a member of the “Tea Party” movement.  Let’s take a closer look … you may want to make sure you have an antacid close by …

On climate change and protecting the environment:

“There are scientists who think lots of different things about climate change. There’s some who think we’re warming, there’s some who think we’re cooling, there’s some who think that the last 16 years have shown a pretty stable climate environment.”  (Seriously?  It seems that I recall reading that 97% of climate scientists agree that climate-warming trends over the past century are extremely likely due to human activities.)

“Federal policy should be about the American family, not worshipping a radical environmental agenda.”  (Just how long do you think the American family will continue to exist if we don’t protect our home, the planet Earth, Mr. P?)

He also opposes the regulation of Greenhouse gas emissions by the United States, and supports eliminating the United States federal register of greenhouse gas emissions.  Are you beginning to understand why Trump picked him?

He has called for the permanent elimination of wind power production tax credits, calling them an “enormous government handout”.

Pompeo is a member of Americans for Prosperity (AFP), the conservative political advocacy group funded by the Koch brothers.  Their agenda, naturally, is to place as many far-right candidates in key Congressional positions as possible.  To that tune, during the 2014 election season, the Koch brothers, David and Charles, contributed nearly a half-million dollars to Pompeo’s campaign.  He signed the AFP’s “No Climate Tax” pledge …No climate tax pledgeAnd the AFP isn’t his only connection to the infamous Kochs.  In 1998, Pompeo co-founded Thayer Aerospace and Private Security, funded in part by investments by the Koch brothers.

He opposes same-sex marriage, opposes workplace protection for the LGBT community, which has earned him a zero rating with the Human Rights Campaign (HRC).  But I know you’ll be happy to hear that he has an “A” rating with the National Rifle Association (NRA)!

Toward the latter part of his short tenure, Tillerson seemed to be stepping up to the plate, and only yesterday condemned Russia for the chemical attack against a former Russian spy in the UK – a stance that the Trump White House refused to take, and one that was likely the straw that broke the camel’s back for Tillerson’s tenure in the State Department.  Tillerson was not an ideal Secretary of State, but it is the opinion of this writer that Pompeo will be worse.  Trump has made a shambles of our relations with allies across the pond, and Pompeo is likely to support Trump blindly, causing even more rifts.  Pompeo has absolutely zero foreign policy experience, and has rigid, uncompromising views on human rights.  This is not what we need, especially as Trump heads to his first meeting with Kim Jong-un of North Korea.

Pompeo will have to be confirmed by the Senate, of course, but as we have seen in the past 14 months, that is a rubber stamp, as the republicans in the Senate continue to lick Trump’s boots.


Two notable stories caught my eye yesterday, neither warranting an entire post, but both of some importance, so I decided to combine them into a single post.

Another bad choice in the EPA

Yet again, the fox has been tasked with watching over the henhouse.  The fox, in this case, is Peter Wright, an attorney for Dow Chemical.  The henhouse is otherwise known as the EPA’s Office of Land and Emergency Management (OLEM). Wright would oversee the development of guidelines for the land disposal of hazardous waste and underground storage tanks and respond to accidental chemical releases through the Superfund program. Dow Chemical has dozens of pending Superfund cases.  Wow … does anybody see a conflict of interest here?

The appointment must be confirmed by the senate … we will see if they are finally ready to do their jobs, or if they are still being good little bootlickers.

Another major figure at the EPA who makes decisions on Superfund issues is Albert Kelly, who was banned from the banking industry for life for violating federal banking laws.  Kelly owns stock in Phillips 66, which has potential Superfund liability at 31 sites around the country.

For those who may not be completely clear on what a Superfund site is, allow me to provide a brief explanation.  Superfund is a United States federal government program designed to fund the cleanup of sites contaminated with hazardous substances and pollutants. Sites managed under this program are referred to as “Superfund” sites. It was established as the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act of 1980. It authorizes federal natural resource agencies, primarily the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), states and Native American tribes to recover natural resource damages caused by hazardous substances. The EPA may identify parties responsible for hazardous substances released to the environment (polluters) and either compel them to clean up the sites, or it may undertake the cleanup on its own using the Superfund (a trust fund) and costs recovered from polluters by referring to the U.S. Department of Justice.

When the polluter is known, they are forced to pay for the cleanup, but when it cannot be determined who caused the damage, or the polluter is unable to pay, then the burden falls on the taxpayer, which occurs about 30% of the time.  Until the mid-1990s, the monies came from a tax on the petro-chemical industries, but now it is the burden of the taxpayers.

Dow Chemical is currently responsible to cover the costs of cleanup at no less than 131 Superfund sites, and is currently under obligation to the tune of $152 million.  So now, if the Senate confirms Wright for the position, he will be in charge of ensuring that Dow pays for the cleanup of those sites.  Dow, a company to whom he has owed his loyalty for the past 19 years!

Despite Trump’s campaign pledges to “drain the swamp” in Washington, Wright’s nomination is the latest example of the President appointing corporate lawyers or lobbyists to supervise federal offices that directly regulate their former employers.

Is Paul Ryan seeing the light … finally?

Has Paul Ryan finally had enough?  Did Donald Trump finally cross some invisible line with Ryan, perhaps place the straw that broke the camel’s back?  Let us hope.

What was that ‘straw’?  The tariffs on steel and aluminum that Trump announced late last week.  Ryan’s spokeswoman, AshLee Strong, said yesterday, “We are extremely worried about the consequences of a trade war and are urging the White House to not advance with this plan.  The new tax reform law has boosted the economy and we certainly don’t want to jeopardize those gains.”

Well, I would certainly argue with the logic as regards the tax ‘reform’ law, which has not had time to ‘boost’ the economy, and is not likely to at any rate.  But whatever gets the sycophants in Congress off their butts and finally doing their job, let us not quibble.  After hearing of Ryan’s statements this morning, Trump declared that he is not “backing down”.

House Ways and Means Chairman, republican Kevin Brady and subcommittee chairman Dave Reichert, also a republican, have also tried to convince Trump that this is the wrong thing at the wrong time.  In addition to worries of what the tariffs will do to the economy, republicans worry that the move will likely cost them seats in November’s mid-term elections.  While I would be happy to see the republicans lose seats in November, I am not happy to see Trump start a trade war where there can be no winners, where we all stand to lose.

It is most unfortunate that Trump is so hellbent on imposing the tariffs, for it is a poor move and one likely to cause economic waves worldwide.  But perhaps the positive note in all of this is that the republicans in Congress, or at least many of them, are not happy … perhaps now they will remove their blinders, pack away their shoe shine kits and put some brakes on Trump, as they should have been doing for the past 13 months.

The Constitution actually gives Congress the authority over taxation and tariffs, but in recent years, Congress has been content to delegate that authority to the president.  Until now, it had not caused problems, but until now, we had leaders with two things the current one lacks:  intellect and a conscience.

Trump responded with his usual aplomb:

“Our country on trade has been ripped off by virtually every country in the world, whether it’s friend or anybody – China, Russia, people we think are wonderful, the European Union. We lost $800 billion a year on trade. Not going to happen.”

“Ripped off by virtually every country in the world”?  Really???  Where are the handlers?  Have they all jumped ship too?

Note to readers:  Yesterday’s eye surgery went well, though I was extremely tired all afternoon.  It will take a couple of days before I am able to see out of that eye again, and I am temporarily back to needing the magnifying glass to read/write, so I will, in all likelihood still be a bit slow for the rest of this week.  Thanks to all for the well-wishes and hugs … always greatly appreciated!

Competitive Elections Are Bad For Us?

Most of us give very little thought to the U.S. Census Bureau and the census that is taken once every ten years.  Ho hum, right?  We get a form, fill it out, send it back and at the end, we read in the news how many people live in the country … just another statistic to store away somewhere in the backs of our minds, for there are more important things to think about.  But you may want to start thinking a bit harder about the census that will be taken in 2020.

census logoThe census is about more than simply counting how many people are in the country.  It is also the source for the demographics that are used by the government to make policy decisions. And, it determines such things as how many electoral votes each state gets, how may representatives each state will have in Congress, and where district lines will be drawn.  Therefore, it is pretty important to have accuracy in the census.  Though it is impossible to ever have complete accuracy, the Census Bureau strives for the highest possible degree of accuracy … we hope.

Currently, the head of the U.S. Census Bureau is a temporary career civil servant, and as the agency is beginning to gear up for the 2020 census, Trump is looking to appoint a permanent head for the bureau. Now think back to some of Trump’s other appointments. Trump has made a habit of appointing individuals to serve in his administration who are either supremely unqualified or seemingly opposed to the very objectives of the agencies they are tapped to lead:  Betsy DeVos, who is against public schools, for Secretary of the Department of Education; Jeff Sessions, a known racist, for U.S. Attorney General; Scott Pruitt, who has sued the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) multiple times, for head of the EPA, the very agency he has threatened to abolish. So who, you might ask, is Trump reportedly planning to appoint to lead the Census Bureau?


Thomas Brunell

Thomas Brunell, a Professor of Political Science at the University of Texas at Dallas, and author of the book Redistricting and Representation: Why Competitive Elections are Bad for America (Controversies in Electoral Democracy and Representation).  Think on this one for just a minute, friends.  The man who will be in charge of the department that will determine how representation is apportioned believes that competitive elections are a bad thing.  Mind-boggling, don’t you think?

The leadership positions in the U.S. Census Bureau have typically been held by non-partisan civil servants with a background in statistics. Trump is planning to nominate Brunell to the number two position at the bureau, deputy director, which does not require Senate confirmation, as the position of director would. Brunell would become the highest-ranking permanent official at the agency. Though the deputy director technically reports to the census director, that slot is temporarily being filled by a career civil servant. There is currently no nominee for a permanent director.

brunell-bookTrump has already paved the way for curtailment of voter’s rights with his false, unsubstantiated claims of massive voter fraud in the 2016 elections.  He is also said to be considering an executive order to add a question to the census form about immigration/citizenship status, which would reduce the number of responses from minorities, fearing what the government might do with the information.  At the same time, his budget calls for an inadequate 7% increase for the Census Bureau at a time when they bureau must hire tens of thousands of people and open dozens of field offices nationwide.  And we cannot forget his ‘Advisory Commission on Election Integrity’ which has been the source of much controversy and is currently facing a number of lawsuits after attempting to collect the private information, including Social Security numbers and criminal conviction data of registered voters.

The appointment of Brunell is but another indication that Trump has little respect for our rights as voters, for the democratic process.  My hope is that Trump will be out of office by the end of 2018, but even so, many of the moves he is making today, such as the appointment of Brunell, may be difficult to undo, if his replacement is even willing to reverse his actions.  Coupled with the fact that there is no doubt in my mind Russia will continue to play a role in our elections, since there have been no repercussions to them, no sanctions, for their proven interference in the 2016 elections, I think it’s safe to say our right to have a voice in government is greatly diminished.

Terri Ann Lowenthal, former co-director of the Census Project, said, “It is imperative that the Census Bureau’s leadership be viewed by the public and by lawmakers as completely nonpartisan. If either the director or the deputy director bring partisan baggage to their position, public confidence in the integrity of the census could plummet. So could congressional confidence. And it is Congress that must accept the apportionment results. All this stuff worries me.”

The Judge Who Should Not Be …

Thus far, in his 10 months in office, Trump has nominated 60 mostly white males for positions in the judiciary.  His most recent choice, however, is raising some eyebrows, including my own.  The man is Brett Talley, and while I’m sure there are some people out there who are less qualified, it would be hard to find one in judicial circles, for Mr. Talley has never tried a case before.

Talley-1Talley earned his JD from Harvard Law School in 2007, but spent the next several years working on Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign, and as a speechwriter for Ohio’s Senator Rob Portman.  He has practiced law, in fact, for just under three years, and again, has never tried a case. So what, you ask, qualifies him for the position of United States District Judge of the United States District Court for the Middle District of Alabama?  Read on …

  • He has pledged support for the National Rifle Association, saying “The NRA stands for all of us now, and I pray that in the coming battle for our rights, they will be victorious.”
  • He panders to Trump: “Those who argue that another Clinton White House is somehow preferable to four years of Trump are blind to the consequences, for the nation, for the party and for the conservative movement.”
  • He was unanimously deemed “not qualified” by the American Bar Association.
  • He once referred to Hillary Clinton as “Hillary Rotten Clinton” on his public Twitter account. He also once posted that she should be in jail.
  • In 2013, he wrote on his blog that armed revolution was an important defense against tyrannical government.
  • He is young (36), white, and male, as have been almost all of Trumps judicial nominations.
  • He will serve in Alabama, a state where Roy Moore served twice and was thrown off the bench both times.
  • He is an author of three published horror novels and two “true ghost” stories. “I consider it a gift. In horror novels being the antichrist is, like, the highest honor possible.”

Talley-2Last Thursday, November 9th, Talley was endorsed in a 11-9 vote by the Senate Judiciary Committee, and the vote will next go to the full Senate for vote.  It will require three republican senators to vote ‘nay’ in order to stop this nomination.  But wait … if you weren’t already convinced that he is highly unqualified, there’s more …

As part of the confirmation process, Talley was required to fill out a questionnaire in which he was specifically asked to identify family members and others who are “likely to present potential conflicts of interest.” He rather failed to mention one very important connection:  his wife, Ann Donaldson, is in fact, the chief of staff to the White House counsel, Donald F. McGahn II.  He also conveniently forgot to mention his wife when he described his frequent contact with White House lawyers.

Talley-wifeWhy does his wife and her position matter?  A couple of reasons …

  • District judges often provide the first ruling when laws are called into question, decisions that can put them at odds with the White House and its lawyers. Remember the judges in Hawaii and Maryland who temporarily blocked Trump’s travel ban?
  • Donaldson has emerged in recent weeks as a witness in Robert Mueller’s investigation into whether Trump obstructed justice. She was interviewed by investigators recently about her detailed notes about conversations with Mr. McGahn on topics including the firing of the former F.B.I. director James B. Comey.

In my opinion, which coupled with about $5 will buy you a Starbucks coffee, he is highly unqualified, if for no other reason than that his failure to disclose his wife’s position displays a lack of honesty.  Pair that, if you will, with the fact that he has never tried a case and only practiced law for under three years, and this man is not federal judge material. White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders disagrees:

“Mr. Talley served as deputy solicitor general for the state of Alabama, currently serves in the Department of Justice’s Office of Legal Policy and was recommended by Alabama’s U.S. senators, He is more than qualified to serve in the federal judiciary.”

I’ve driven a car, too, but it doesn’t mean I know how to build one.

Trump’s goal is to stack the courts with young conservative judges.  Since these are lifetime appointments, this tactic, if successful as it has been thus far, could well result in the next 40 or so years of conservative decisions handed down.  Think what this could do to civil rights, LGBT rights, the rights of non-Christians …

The Senate will surely see their way to refuse to confirm Talley … right?  They should, but then I used to believe in the Tooth Fairy, too.

Hope Hicks – Fame & Fortune

I had to laugh when I read this CNN headline …

Hicks named permanent White House communications director

One word caught my eye:  permanent.  Can anything really be said to be ‘permanent’ in the current administration?  And of all things, the communication director, of which there have been three before Hicks?  She is the fourth in just seven months!  Permanent?  I think not.

hicks-4So, who is Hope Hicks and how did she come to be the new White House communications director?

Just short of 29 years of age, Hope Hicks graduated from Southern Methodist University with a degree in English in 2010.  Her association with the Trump clan began two years later when, working for the public relations firm of Hiltzik Strategies, she was assigned to the Ivanka Trump clothing line.  In 2014, Ivanka hired Hicks away from Hiltzik Stragegies.  Five months later, in January 2015, Donald Trump called her into his office and, in Ms. Hicks’ words, “Mr. Trump looked at me and said, ‘I’m thinking about running for president, and you’re going to be my press secretary.'”

Although she had no prior experience in politics, no degree in communication, she joined Trump’s campaign before there even was a campaign (Trump did not officially declare his intent to run until June 2015, five months later) and has been an adoring lap puppy ever since.  During the campaign, her main role seemed to be that of guard dog, deciding on a daily basis who among the media would be allowed access to Trump.

hicks-3It is said that Hicks also took dictation from Trump for his tweets, and then sent the text to another person in the Trump organization who actually sent out the tweets from Trump’s official account. Now, I have to question … Trump’s tweets are notorious for spelling errors and poor grammar.  If Hicks has a degree in English, and if she was twitting his tweets … ???

Last year, the New York Times dubbed Hicks as ‘the woman who totally understands Donald Trump’.  I seriously doubt that she understands him, for his mind is a tangled web of frayed filaments.  However, she seems perfectly willing to support him in all things, and to defend his position even when she likely does not understand either the issue at hand or his position.  Take, for example, a statement she issued on 29 May …

“President Trump [sic] has a magnetic personality and exudes positive energy, which is infectious to those around him. He has an unparalleled ability to communicate with people …. He has built great relationships throughout his life and treats everyone with respect. He is brilliant with a great sense of humor … and an amazing ability to make people feel special and aspire to be more than even they thought possible.”

Oh please … did she really say “treats everyone with respect”?  Has she not heard how he calls Mexicans ‘rapists and murderers’?  Did she not hear him mock a disabled reporter?  Has she not heard the names he calls those in his own party when they fail to worship the ground he walks on?  Does she not hear the names he calls democrats, the press, judges, and most of all, Hillary Clinton?

And so, we begin to see at least part of the reason that she has now been named White House Communication Director and rewarded for her efforts, whatever they may be, with an annual salary of $179,900. While some, if not most, in Trump’s inner circle see their jobs as being to try to protect Trump from himself, to rein in his unfiltered speech and reduce the controversy, Hicks apparently views her job as to build an ego that is already far too large.

Like Kellyanne Conway, Hicks has sometimes been referred to in the press as the “Trump whisperer”.  My take, not that it matters, but just for the record, is that she is a young gold-digger and will do whatever is required of her, as long as it leads to fame and fortune.


With fellow boot-licker, Kellyanne Conway

Communications to the press from the White House have been poor since the day Trump took office.  As much as I mocked and sometimes railed at Sean Spicer, frankly he was probably the best of the bunch, for at least you could tell when Sean was lying.  Sarah Huckabee Sanders, Sean’s replacement as Press Secretary, never comes off as being either sincere or insincere, but rather always seems impatient and disgusted with all the media.

Now, with Ms. Hicks implanted as communications director, the team of Hicks/Sanders is sure to deliver nothing more than the party line, in other words, “Donald Trump is wonderful and everything he says is right”. I would not believe either of these women if they told me that water is wet.  Congratulations, I suppose, to Hope Hicks … I hope that years from now she still thinks it was worth whatever she had to do for her fame and fortune.

NASA And The New Director …

Dr. Ben Carson – Secretary of Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD)

Rex Tillerson – Secretary of State

Betsy DeVos – Secretary of Education

Jeff Sessions – Attorney General

Scott Pruitt – Director of the Environmental Protection Agency

The above is a list of just a few of the cabinet members appointed by Donald Trump who are the complete antithesis of the jobs they hold.  I have written at length about each before, so I need not repeat myself here.  However, yesterday a new name was added to the list: Jim Bridenstine for Director of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA).

nasa-logoUnlike every other NASA director in the history of the agency, Bridenstine has no science credentials … no background in scientific research, no college degree in any hard science, zip.  His degrees were in business, economics and psychology. In fact, Mr. Bridenstine is an anti-scientist … a climate change denier who seems to believe that, despite the lack of a related education, he knows more than the scientists who have devoted their entire careers to study and research.  This is the man who may soon be in charge of our space program, folks.

Bridenstine has taken climate-change denial to new levels.  In 2013, he gave a lengthy speech to the House of Representatives enumerating his points for disputing the scientific results of climate change. “Mr. Speaker, global temperatures stopped rising 10 years ago. Global temperature changes, when they exist, correlate with Sun output and ocean cycles.” But he then went on to demand that President Obama apologize for funding climate change research!

NASA chart.jpgNASA has been at the forefront of climate change research, and in 2010 a NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS) science brief summarizing recent research, explains, “A study by GISS  climate scientists recently published in the journal Science shows that atmospheric CO2 operates as a thermostat to control the temperature of Earth. There is no viable alternative to counteract global warming except through direct human effort to reduce the atmospheric CO2 level.”

nasa-2.jpgBoth Senators from Florida, republican Marco Rubio and democrat Bill Nelson, criticized the Bridenstine’s nomination.  Florida, of course, is connected to NASA through the Kennedy Space Center located in Titusville, Florida.  “I just think [his nomination] could be devastating for the space program,” said Rubio. “The head of NASA ought to be a space professional, not a politician,” said Nelson.

Because I am not ‘science-savvy’, have never understood more than basic scientific concepts, I shall simply say that NASA’s Earth Science Division is a key player in providing data and scientific research on environmental issues, including climate change.  NASA’s research into temperature, ice, clouds and other climate phenomena is world-renowned. Nasa’s network of satellites provide a wealth of information on climate change.

However, since last November, Trump has made it clear that he intends to cut funding for this division and expects NASA to focus only on space exploration, not earth’s environment.  His nominee for director of NASA seems to fit well with his goals of defunding all federally funded environmental research.

Bridenstine, it is said, has long lobbied for ‘opening commercial access’ to space.  What does that mean, exactly? I cannot say for sure (I told you … science is NOT my strong suit) but Bridenstine is a strong advocate for drawing private companies like SpaceX and Blue Origin more deeply into NASA’s exploration of space, and he mentions ‘commercial use of the moon’s resources’.  Okay, fine, I suppose, but if we do not address climate change, none of that has any relevance now, does it?

nasa-3Bridenstine’s nomination will have to be confirmed by the Senate, and here is where I think there may be some hope.  Given the partisanship in the Senate, no democrat is likely to produce a ‘yea’ vote.  So … it only requires 3 republican senators to vote against Bridenstine’s nomination and he will fail to be confirmed.  Marco Rubio has already expressed concerns, so if he sticks by his guns, there is one.  Since Trump’s failure to condemn white supremacists after the Charlottesville attack three weeks ago, many republicans in both the House and the Senate are growing disillusioned with Trump.  And, he has added insult to injury, insulting a number of his own party.  And let us not forget the devastation wreaked by last week’s hurricane on the gulf coast of Texas. My hope is that at least two other republican senators are fed up enough to deny him this confirmation, for Bridenstine and NASA will not be a good combination. Once again, Trump has chosen what may be the worst possible candidate to fill a position.  Let us hope the Senate puts the brakes on this one.


Jim Bridenstine

Who IS General John Kelly???


four-starRetired Four-Star General John Kelly is the new White House Chief of Staff, replacing the abruptly fired Reince Priebus.  But who is General Kelly?  Is he a man of integrity?  Is he a fair and honest man?  Let us take a look …


John and his wife Karen have been married for more than 40 years.  Their marriage has survived not only numerous deployments and military separations, but in 2010 their son, Robert, was killed in action in Sangin, Afghanistan. To keep a marriage alive through all that requires dedication, commitment, and a whole lot of love.  It also says much about the character of the two individuals.

Robert-Kelly-grave.jpgJohn and Karen have two other grown children:  John, Jr., is a Marine Corps Major, and Kathleen, who works for the American Red Cross at Walter Reed Hospital.

Military Career

John enlisted in the Marines in 1970, and was discharged from active duty as a sergeant in 1972, after serving in an infantry company with the 2nd Marine Division, Camp Lejeune, North Carolina. He was commissioned on December 27, 1975, as a second lieutenant in the Marine Corps via Officer Candidates School. In 1976, he graduated from the University of Massachusetts Boston and, in 1984, he received a Master of Science degree in National Security Studies from the Georgetown School of Foreign Service.

Kelly served in the Persian Gulf War, during the Operation Desert Storm combat phase in January and February 1991. In 2002, Kelly was promoted to Brigadier General. After the Iraq War began, he was deployed to Iraq. He took command of Task Force Tripoli in April 2003 after the fall of Baghdad. Kelly’s last role in the military before retirement in 2016, was commander of U.S. Southern Command. It is one of the Unified Combatant Commands and is responsible for operations in Central and South America. It is based in Doral, Florida. This was his first and only four-star assignment.

Secretary of Homeland Security

Kelly was confirmed as Secretary of Homeland Security by a Senate vote of 88-11 on inauguration day, January 20th. In this position, he has consistently supported the idea of a wall spanning the U.S.-Mexico border, saying that he believed “a border wall is essential” as there were “tremendous threats” such as drugs and individuals coming into the U.S. Kelly said of terrorism, “It’s everywhere. It’s constant. It’s nonstop. The good news for us in America is we have amazing people protecting us every day. But it can happen here almost anytime.” He said that the threat from terrorism was so severe that some people would “never leave the house” if they knew the truth. Both of these views are, in my opinion, exaggerated and play on the fears of citizens.

Political Ideology

  • While he was the commander of the Southern Command, he was critical of Barack Obama’s decisions to open combat jobs to women and closing down Guantanamo. He swatted away criticism of inhumane practices in Guantanamo. He also said that the military would be under pressure to “lower standards” for women in combat duty.
  • He is a strong supporter of Trump’s hardline immigration policy and of the contentious, conflict-riddled travel ban.

My take on General Kelly is that he is a good person … he has raised three children, all of whom entered careers involving service to humanity in one form or another, and I find no scandal surrounding any of them.  He has what, from all reports, is a stable, loving marriage that has survived through many situations that would have torn apart less committed couples.  I have concerns, however, about his radical stance on immigration and border security.  Nonetheless, those stances are not really at issue in his present position as White House Chief of Staff.

The White House, contrary to what Donald Trump says, is obviously in a state of chaos.  There are internal power struggles, so many lies that I have lost count, and the leakers.  It would seem that somebody who walks softly and carries a big stick is needed to bring order out of the chaos.  Kelly has little experience for the position but … he does have experience in managing groups of people, so perhaps he can make some sense of the garbage heap that resides in the White House.

IF … if he is a good man of conscience, I think that he cannot possibly last more than six months.  If he stands by his convictions, his integrity, then it is only a matter of time before he and Trump butt heads and … well … Trump is, for the time being, da boss.  Even if that does not occur, my best guess is that within six months Gen. Kelly will tire of the game-playing, the constant lies, the back-stabbing, and the Trump children always getting their way, even when their actions threaten to bring the whole house of cards tumbling down.  If Kelly turns out to be less than a man of honour, then he should fit right in, but I do not think this is the case.  Though I disagree with his stances on immigration, the terrorist threat, and women in the military, I believe he is a man who tries to follow his conscience and do what he believes is best for the nation.

At the very least, his four decades in progressive leadership roles in the military should stand him in good stead for bringing some order to the White House, although with the current cast of characters, I do not think there will ever be complete cohesion.  One can hope that Kelly’s relative sanity remains intact and will at least partly offset the insanity of his boss. Best of luck to General John Kelly … he will need all the luck he can get!

Mr. Scaramucci, The Mooch Is Banished From The White House

It appears that General John Kelly, the new White House Chief of Staff, is not going to put up with all the b.s. that has defined the WH administration thus far. On his first day on the job, he did the nation a great service! Please read Gronda’s excellent post for details! Two thumbs-up to Gen. Kelly! Thank you, Gronda, for being right on top of this!

Gronda Morin

Image result for photos of anthony scaramucci and reince priebus PRIEBUS/ SCARAMUCCI

It appears that the republican President Donald Trump’s new Chief of State General John Kelly is truly taking charge. The first significant signal is that Communications Director Anthony Scaramucci (Mooch) has been shown the exit door just days after he was hired. At any other competently run organization, he would have been fired within the hour (7/27/17) after he had fired off an X-rated tirade against the then White House’s Chief of Staff Reince Priebus and the Chief Strategist Steve Bannon.

In addition. the White House’s Spokesperson Sarah Huckabee Sanders announced that all White House Staff will report directly to General Chief Kelly. This includes Jared Kushner, Ivanka Trump and Steve Bannon.

Maybe this chief of Staff will be on the job for at least six months. He is starting out with a bang.

Image result for photos of anthony scaramucci and reince priebusHere is the rest of the story…

On July 31, 2017, Maggie Haberman, Michael D…

View original post 562 more words

Rules??? Rules Are For Others …

Note:  On Wednesday, 18 July, Donald Trump spoke with three New York Times reporters — Peter Baker, Michael S. Schmidt and Maggie Haberman — in an exclusive interview in the Oval Office for nearly an hour.  There are a number of points in the interview that I believe need to be addressed at length, and this post is the first of those.

One of our Significant Seven is a beautiful, tiny long-haired cat named Tiger Lily.  We call her the ‘cat from hell’, for she is vicious.  She will beg to be petted, you are contentedly stroking her gorgeous fur, and then out of the blue, with no warning, either her teeth or claws are sunk deeply into your skin.

It would appear that the person occupying the Oval Office has a personality similar to that of Miss Tiger Lily, as he turns on his own just as quickly and with no less viciousness. Take, for example, his remarks about Attorney General Jeff Sessions in his Wednesday interview with the New York Times.

Trump: “So Jeff Sessions takes the job, gets into the job, recuses himself. I then have — which, frankly, I think is very unfair to the president. How do you take a job and then recuse yourself? If he would have recused himself before the job, I would have said, “Thanks, Jeff, but I can’t, you know, I’m not going to take you.” It’s extremely unfair, and that’s a mild word, to the president. So he recuses himself. I then end up with a second man, who’s a deputy.

Haberman: “Rosenstein.”

Trump: “Who is he? And Jeff hardly knew. He’s from Baltimore.”

Trump: “Yeah, what Jeff Sessions did was he recused himself right after, right after he became attorney general. And I said, “Why didn’t you tell me this before?” I would have — then I said, “Who’s your deputy?” So his deputy he hardly knew, and that’s Rosenstein, Rod Rosenstein, who is from Baltimore. There are very few Republicans in Baltimore, if any. So, he’s from Baltimore. Now, he, we went through a lot of things. We were interviewing replacements at the F.B.I. Did you know Mueller was one of the people that was being interviewed?”

Translation:  If I had known Jeff Sessions was going to follow the law, I would not have hired him.

Let me just set the record straight on a few issues here.

  • Sessions had no choice but to recuse himself once it came to light that, as Trump’s campaign advisor, he met, during the campaign, with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak and then omitted to inform the Senate Judiciary Committee of the meetings when questioned about it. The law: Justice Department regulations provide that “no employee shall participate in a criminal investigation or prosecution if he has a personal or political relationship” with the subject of the investigation or “any person or organization which he knows has a specific and substantial interest that would be directly affected by the outcome of the investigation or prosecution.” As Sessions told the Senate Intelligence Committee last month, “That regulation states, in effect, that department employees should not participate in investigations of a campaign if they have served as a campaign advisor.” In other words, it’s a no-brainer, at least if you understand basic concepts of conflict of interest. What Trump perceives as betrayal is Ethics 101.

  • As regards the appointment by Rod Rosenstein of Robert Mueller as special counsel: Justice Department regulations require appointment of a special counsel when the attorney general, or someone acting in his stead, determines that investigation through the normal departmental processes “would present a conflict of interest for the Department.” How could this not be true of the Russia matter? Even leaving aside the question of whether the president himself is under investigation, it involves the president’s campaign and closest advisers, including relatives. The special counsel regulations were not put in place to torment presidents but to reassure the public that, even in politically sensitive cases, justice would proceed impartially and unimpeded.

rules-Trump-2It would appear that Trump’s reason for his remarks against Sessions is to cause Sessions to resign. I imagine he presumes that if Sessions resigns, he will nominate a new Attorney General, one who will not have need to recuse himself from the investigation, and one who will do Trump’s bidding, which would likely be to fire Robert Mueller and end the independent investigation into the many threads that tie the Russian government to Donald Trump & Co.

Sessions said he and his Justice Department colleagues intended to continue to serve and he would do so “as long as that is appropriate.” In early June, after Trump ranted to various people that Sessions should not have recused himself, Jeff Sessions is said to have offered his resignation, which Trump refused.  But now, with the heat having been turned up even more in light of Don Trump Junior’s meeting in June 2016, apparently Trump is having second thoughts.

What is most troubling about this is that it highlights the fact that Donald Trump believes he is above the law, that laws and rules do not apply to him, and that he can bully his way through any situation.  As most of you know, I have an immense dislike of Jeff Sessions, consider him to be a bigot and a racist, and think he is possibly the worst possible person to lead the Department of Justice.  That said, I hope he is not forced to resign, simply because at present, with Sessions’ hands tied in the Russian investigation and Rosenstein seeming to be a straight shooter, I believe the investigation will proceed.  If Sessions leaves, all bets are off, unless the Senate wakes up and begins to realize that Trump is a power-hungry madman and refuses to confirm any candidate unless they promise to keep Mueller on as special counsel and let him do his job.

Donald Trump apparently believes that his position, his title, render him immune from the law.  Nothing could be further from the truth, and he needs to start being held accountable for both his words and his actions.  Thus far, few have attempted to do so … it is time for that to change.